Exploring meaningful mentorships

Kaiah Gloria, Staff Writier

Mentorship is a prominent word in many communities, including the Westmont community. An inside look at what students and faculty have to say about mentorship might help reveal the importance of this word at Westmont.

Ellie Michaelian, communications major, stated, “Everyone should have a mentor; I think it’s essential.” Michaelian has been blessed with many mentors, resulting in her beliefs about the importance of one.

Nathanael Nims, a triple major, believes having a mentor is “one of the most formative relationships that exist, especially for young people.”

Nims’ recognition of this fact is supplemented by Westmont soccer coach Dave Wolf’s belief in the uniqueness of college years. Wolf stated that college is when students are “cementing who [they] will be” in an unprecedented way. The consensus between students and faculty reveals that mentorship is a formative and essential experience for such an irreplaceable season of life: college.

The general population views mentorship as a growth-centered experience; however, Westmont students and faculty reveal the deeper layers and beauty of the experience. Coach Wolf commented on “how healthy it is for us as human beings to verbalize who we are … Oftentimes [the] safest places to do that is in mentoring relationships.”

In that same vein, Nims said, “One of the great joys of being in a mentorship relationship is you get to experience grace and compassion and forgiveness in ways that I find hard to give to myself, and there’s a sense of being seen in that.” Nims agreed that having a mentor has taught him how to recognize his worth and extend himself grace.

Additionally, Michaelian acknowledged an oft-missed merit of mentorship in revealing that a mentor provides her with “another source of wisdom other than [personal] experience [and] my parents.” She noted the relief that comes with being mentored by professors, because she knows they are educated and are reliable sources of knowledge.

While most mentorships share certain commonalities, mentor/mentee relationships — the way they’re formed, navigated, and maintained — can vary between persons a lot. Coach Wolf referred to how he instantly develops a close mentoring bond with some of his players while with others, he never has such a relationship.

While Michaelian and Nims expressed that both formal and informal mentor-mentee relationships are fruitful, theology professor Dr. Telford Work stated the best type of mentoring is the kind “you don’t realize is happening,” due to its organic development. His support of naturally-developed mentorships is rooted in his personal experience of being best mentored when he was simply paying attention.

Work specified how mentoring and learning from others by paying attention is wired into human nature, something he’s seen as a Boy Scouts troop leader observing the relationships between older and younger Boy Scouts.

The complex nature and wonder of having a mentor raises questions of who to choose and how to choose one. Michaelian suggested finding someone “farther along in the values you want to see in yourself, and who exemplifies who you want to be.”

Nims echoed Michaelian’s advice, emphasizing the value of having multiple mentors that form a diverse whole and “who can speak from different angles [to contribute to] your own development.”

Dr. Work warned against “neglectful” mentors who act as poor role models, mentioning that even gang and cult leaders are mentors of a dark path. He agrees that a fruitful mentor is anyone who helps a person grow, but “especially someone with more experience,” rather than just with more years. Nims’ experience of finding mentorship in his friends who have served as role models to him, seems to emphasize this concept.

How does one get a mentor? Both students said to simply ask and initiate interaction! Coach Wolf expressed most professors’ hearts when he talked about the conflict between the desire to mentor and large class sizes making it difficult if students don’t initiate. Michaelian said, “I think more people are open or would like to be a mentor than people think” — an encouraging line to all who desire mentorship.

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